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Full text of "Verdict On India"

CHAPTER  VIII
GAOL-BIRD
THE voice of the woman at the other end of the telephone was
light and musical and full of laughter.
'I was in gaol," she said, 'when you first arrived, which is why
we have not met before. However, I'm out again, for the moment
at least; so you mil come to tea ? This afternoon, then, at five-
thirty/
I hung up, and scribbled on the telephone pad the words 'gaol—
Xaidu—shock/ This memorandum had a simple object; I
wanted to remember the shock which those words had caused—
"I was in gaol*—coining as they did from a cultured and charming
woman like Mrs. Xaidu. Constantly, in. India, as we noted earlier
in the book, one is stunned by the impact of these shocks, only to
find, a few weeks later, that they are shocks no longer; they are
accepted, absorbed into the general fabric of life. However,c I was
in gaol* still evokes a feeling of surprise, particularly as it is
associated with that charming voice, so very sweet and—if she
will forgive the suggestion—so very Mayfair.
Before we go to call on Mrs. Naidu let us take a brief stock of
our bearings. We are back in Hyderabad where, you may remem-
ber, we began our search for Indian art. A great deal has hap-
pened in the meantime, to ourselves to India, and the world at
large, but this is not yet the place to record it. For the moment
it is sufficient to observe that it is the month of October, that Lord
Linlithgow\ long and anxious reign as Viceroy is drawing to a
close, au,d that the political situation is quiet, apart from the
ominous rumblings caused by the famine in Bengal a disaster
which we shall later be investigating on the spot.
As we pause on the threshold of Mrs* NaichTs house, a word
must be said about her importance on the Indian scene.   Apart
from Dr. Ambedkar. she is the first major political figure who has,
made her appearance in this book.   The omission, has been de-
liberate. It seemed to me quite futile to plunge into Indian politico